It's crazy how much we owe to the internet and social media these days. How it intuitively guides us to making new connections, seeing things from different perspectives, discovering new artists... music.
I can't remember the direct path of perusing I took when I stumbled upon Linafornia (as it was over a year ago) but I do know that clicking on her Soundcloud link was one of the best decisions I'd made last year. Immediately captivated by 'dot wav', amidst signature beats and aerial loops I found myself completely vibed out and mesmerized by this new music I'd discovered.
Fast forward a year later to Lina winning first place at Beat Cinema Beat Battle, performing at Low End Theory, and releasing her very first and wildly successful LP "YUNG" released by Dome of Doom. I spent a day with the beat maker in her home ground of Leimert Park getting to know a little bit about her story on a personal level.
KAYLA: What's your earliest recollection of music?
LINAFORNIA: My earliest recollection of music is more than likely from watching my sister and older cousins dance to dancehall music, like Mad Cobra and Chaka Demus. They used to make home videos of themselves dancing all the latest dancehall dances that were popular in the 90s.
Top three producers of all time (to you) and why.
First of all Madlib is my number one favorite producer of ALL time. Everything about his taste in music to the style of his production tending to be kind of gritty and sounding just so organic is dope to me. I appreciate his longevity in the game – he's been at this since the 90's, yo – and I also love that he's so creative. From his jazz projects as Yesterday's New Quintet to his collaboration projects as Jaylib and Madvillain into his rap alter ego Quasimoto, he is just wildly creative in a way that I don't see very often in other producers.
Flying Lotus is another producer that I also find to be super creative and I think he probably influenced a whole generation of younger producer hopefuls. He has a signature sound that I've heard a lot of producers try to adopt in their own soundscapes. I like that if you go through his catalog you can really see how his style evolves from "1983" to "Until the Quiet Comes" – the evolution is so clear and evident.
Ras G is my third pick because there is absolutely NO ONE that sounds like him. He has crafted his own signature bass heavy sound. I've heard folks trying to sound like J Dilla and trying to sound like Flying Lotus, but I don't think I've heard anybody that could successfully imitate G. He lives in the same neighborhood I live in and I like that he keeps his culture and the energy of Leimert Park incorporated in his music. His energy is both down to earth and out of this world.
What's your usual creative process when making a beat? Any ritual before creating a new track?
No rituals... My creative process is sporadic and I haven't pinpointed it yet. I just try to move as quickly as possible on a vibe when it hits me.
What would you say has been your most memorable experience since entering the beat scene?
A lot of it has been memorable. It's hard to just pick one. I've had a whole lot of new first-time experiences while being on this music journey. But my top three moments: I would say my first show at Bananas in Leimert Park in 2014; winning my first beat battle in 2014 that was hosted by Beat Cinema; and this year performing at Low End Theory for a second time when I was on the line up with Ras G, Swarvy, and Astronautica. Those are my favorite moments thus far.
During our time together you spoke about your serious car accident in 2013. Some may have stopped making music or even given up on any career in music altogether after being involved in such a traumatizing experience. How did you keep your spirits up and maintain motivation to continue your craft?
Well, right before I got into that car accident I was volunteering for the Stones Throw Records street team and I was promoting the movie premiere and premiere party of their documentary "Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton", so I was already juiced up about my future because I was building a really nice rapport with them, spreading the word about the label and the documentary. I got into my accident on Monday and the premiere party was on Thursday that SAME week. I was really heartbroken because I had all these ideas to continue to stay connected to Stones Throw after the premiere. I don't know... I didn't want to give up on what I was so excited about. I came so close to getting more comfortable with a journey that I just didn't want to surrender my dreams, so it kind of morphed into something else: Beat Making. I used to read about the Afro Punk festivals and watch the Boiler Room on my laptop in my hospice bed and read up on what everyone was up to with music and fashion, what kind of events was I missing out on, who was on the line up for Bananas that month even though I knew I couldn't go. LA has such a vibrant artistic community that now I just can't help but want to contribute my interpretations.
Now I can say I'm contributing to it and I'm proud of that, and the people in my corner made it easy for me to look forward to the future. My family got behind me and kept my spirits up when I was down. Without them it would have been so much harder to cope. My parents have been my rock. Even now, I think they see what I'm doing and how it's panning out and they've been supportive. They see these different write-ups about me and how beautiful my tape is and I think they're proud, which makes me happy. It's something cool they can brag to my aunts and uncles about, haha.
With the power of digital age so many artists are gearing more towards streaming their music entirely and dropping the use of CDs altogether. You made a bit of a stance against that with the release of your debut album 'YUNG' via the medium of cassette tapes. What made you come to the decision of releasing a tape over a CD or only streaming your album online?
Tapes have an aesthetic appeal to me. The design for example can be so specific and personal from the cover art to the color of the actual tape. It's tangible like a CD but it has a more personal touch to it than a CD. I knew there was an audience out there that buys tapes. In my opinion, the beat scene in a sense rejuvenated the interest in collecting tapes. Tapes are more of a rarity because then you have to think of where can you play it. I have a car with a tape deck so I love to collect tapes. I also made sure that every tape comes with a free digital download code too just in case they can't find somewhere to play it, they can easily just redeem the code online and download it to their computer. I made sure all my bases were covered.
You completely sold out of your very first release in just a couple weeks! And you're about to do the same on your second wave of tapes. Congrats! Are you already working on your next project? Is there a potential tour in the mix?
Thank you! I've already been thinking of really dope concepts and ideas for future projects and I've been working on new tracks to include on whatever concept I see fits. Also, I just came back from Texas from doing shows with an art collective I'm part of called Vibe Music Collective. Iman Omari is one of the founders of Vibe Music and he invited me to come out to travel with them. We did a show in New Orleans and two shows in Austin for SXSW Dublab's live online broadcast. I guess that can be considered like a tour, right? Like a southern tour? That's what it felt like. It was so much fun and I couldn't ask for better people to vibe and travel with. I wish I could have stayed longer.
What's your ultimate goal to accomplish in 2016 professionally and/or personally?
I'd like to continue to develop my skills, you know, sharpen my blade. I'd like to travel to play more shows. Touring in the UK would be really exciting for me. I'd also like to put out at least one more tape project this year and a little digital EP as well. Overall the goal is to just build towards ultimate self-sufficiency, connect on integrity, and create the content I want freely on my own terms and merit.